Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sin as Seperation

N.T. Wright says in his book "Surprised by Hope" that the word diabolical comes from another word meaning "to separate."  I tried looking this up, but I couldn't find what language it is.  My guess is that it is Greek or Latin, but I'll worry about that another day.  Genesis chapter 3 is the story of the Fall.  My Bible's heading calls it "The First Sin and Its Punishment."  I tend to think of it as the Great Separating.  In Genesis chapters 1 and 2, the entire universe is pristine and whole.  There is peace among all things.  Wildlife approaches humanity without fear.  Humanity and nature live in harmony.  Husband and wife run around naked without a care in the world.  Humanity lives forever, but then chapter 3 happens and everything crumbles.  Suddenly there are degrees of separation between all things.  Husband and wife are ashamed of their nakedness.  Humanity finds itself embarrassed by its own body (Dr. Richard Beck, on his blog experimentaltheology.blogspot.com, makes an interesting point that humans are the only animals on the planet that wear pants.).  People start distancing themselves from their own actions, displacing blame to those around them.  Humanity and wildlife find themselves at odds.  Children cause their mothers pain.  Humanity and nature contend with each other, as do husbands and wives.  Humanity is separated from life.  Everything goes down the crapper.  Now I was taught growing up that the later part of Genesis 3 was God's punishment, much like the heading my Bible gives, but I don't think it's that simple.  God didn't put shame between Adam and Eve, Adam and Eve did.  God didn't put enmity between the serpent and Eve, the serpent and Eve did.  God didn't disrupt the relationship between humanity and a good use of nature, humanity did.  In other words, when we call Gen. 3 "punishment," aren't we still doing the same thing Adam and Eve did when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent?  The only difference now is that instead of blaming other created things, by calling our present situation (a fallen creation) "punishment" we're pointing our finger at God.  It's God's fault murder and violence exist.  It's God's fault the environment is falling apart.  It's God's fault corrupt people exist.  After all, if God was a loving, caring God, wouldn't he do something about how broken everything is?  Well, all I can say is God didn't cause the environmental disaster in the Gulf, humans did.  God didn't cause the corruption on Wall Street.  We took care of that just fine ourselves.  God doesn't murder or rape or take advantage of the powerless; people do.  I don't think Genesis 3 is an explanation of what God was going to do to humanity because we made him angry.  Genesis 3 is God's attempt to explain to us what we have done to ourselves, and it isn't a pretty picture.  Sadly, left to ourselves, what proof do we have that we're capable of change?

Stopping point: Genesis 3

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